The duty office takes in the referrals. Through the automatic electronic doors, sitting down, the staff use a hand held computer used to take the details. They sit in a pair of comfy sofas and do the assessment. In 1930 it was come in, line up and food was given out. A written record of numbers of people accommodated. Today the Crypt has put a 16 sided form into a series of computerised sections covering recent medical, housing and family history. So much information to process.
Putting someone at ease and reassurance is all part of the job. It’s not another interview for someone to pass, to say the right thing; it’s important information to get a full picture to be able to help. The staff don’t seem fazed by some of the answers, some of which make you angry. Some of which bring you to tears. How? How does a team cope? Is it thick skin? They seem to understand that they are the rock, they must be strong, and if a tear comes to share it but not to break down, to hold fast and reassure the client that they are safe; that everything will be alright.
A bedroom is made up with clean sheets, fresh towels, some toiletries; all checked off ready for the next person. Some Z beds are put out ready just in case they’re going to get an extra influx. The Crypt is open 24/7 and angels turn up at the most unsociable hour. A wheelchair user has come direct from the hospital. There is a link project now between the Crypt and the Hospitals to stop people just discharging themselves onto the street. The team grows; partnership. In the old days people would maybe turn up at the door still in their hospital pyjamas. Now the Crypt smooth transition and ensure everything is ready and waiting. All it takes is a phone-call. Other residents offering to help their peers; it’s all an extension of the Crypt’s organic, dynamic team. Everyone mucks in.
In reception the district care team are signing into the building to see a couple of people. A member of staff leads the way to the clients and find a quiet space for them to do their work. The mix of Crypt staff and professionals from other organisations working together is great to watch. The council are here too, talking about available property they have across the city that can accommodate the different needs; an extensive team, dedicated to the work of St George’s.
A donation is brought in and directed up to the Shop. This opens up another view of the team that operates within the Crypt. Volunteers from the hostels working; sorting out the clothes, moving the furniture, helping with the deliveries and you get an idea of how far-reaching, how inclusive the work of the Crypt really is. It isn’t the paid staff, the volunteers, even the client volunteers; it’s one big family beating one big heart.
The shop feels more than a shop. More a part of the community as people come and go and use the café next door. The café is one of three the Crypt run at the moment across the city. Getting people who have been through the Crypt some valuable skills in catering and customer service. The menu is comforting and good value. Its real work with real customers, real staff with real stories. The majority of the café staff have come through the system, played for the youth side, the under 19’s, the under 21’s before breaking into the senior team.
The van is filled with some donated food. The van seems to be around Leeds all day long. A couple of clients helping with the work. Bread and cakes from a bakers over order is enough to give away extra to take home from the lunch time opening. There is real team work on the van as it unloads.
A community fundraiser comes back from a talk at a local school and another is on the phone talking to some volunteers about the bag packing done in a nearby supermarket. Some signs need to be made and collection buckets to be made ready. Literature is prepared.
Down the corridor is a wind up clock, an original from when they opened in 1930 with a picture of the founder, Don Robins, next to it. The clock’s large Roman numerals a steady tick watching time over the years down the corridor. A room is marked “Meeting in Progress”. The agenda looks like many others, but item one is “opening in prayer.” With all that’s changed through the years, the founder vicar, looking out from his photograph, would be pleased with what it has become today.